How do programmers deal with exhaustion

Occupational disease burnout: total exhaustion

Burnout is dangerous in two ways. The affected people suffer from a deep state of exhaustion, which, however, is often not recognized as such. In addition to the medical problem, there is a billing problem. "According to the criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is not a disease, so patients cannot be put on sick leave for burnout," says Professor Dirk Windemuth, head of the Institute for Work and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance.

Therefore, patients with burnout symptoms due to depression are written off sick and treated on the basis of this diagnosis. "But that doesn't help, it harms people," says Windemuth. It is therefore important for him that those affected know where to find help.

Three typical symptoms

Total exhaustion is synonymous with burnout and stress is the trigger. Stress can be professional or private, but it is never the sole cause of burnout. "There is a multi-causal relationship with all mental illnesses," says Windemuth. In order to develop exhaustion at all, people must have a tendency to mental illness in addition to stress. If such people are exposed to severe stress, this can lead to burnout.

Anyone affected suffers from three typical symptoms: 1. Emotional exhaustion. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that people no longer feel feelings for others. 2. Lack of efficiency. Those affected no longer manage their tasks despite working overtime and are unable to act. 3. Cynical distancing. People distance themselves from their work and become cynical. "Anyone who says, 'I can't go on' - and not just in a specific situation - is almost burned out," says Windemuth. This cry for help is more than a leading indicator.

Saying "no", not wanting to be perfect

But how can people protect themselves who feel that exhaustion is imminent? "For example, you have to be able to say no and not want to be perfect," advises the professor, who has worked in psychological therapy for years. Anyone who manages 95 percent of their work achieves a lot. If you want to do everything perfectly, you never stop working. Saying no, you can learn that from psychological psychotherapists or specialists in psychotherapy. "But never google for symptoms on the Internet," warns Windemuth. The information material there is more unsettling than it is helpful.

According to the professor, employers often take prophylaxis against burnout by making work healthy. This includes, above all, the establishment of good working conditions and advisory services for employees at external service providers: Employees with mental health problems can call them and the qualified staff will recognize whether someone should see a specialist or whether advice over the phone is sufficient. "Just as employers have to ensure that work does not make you sick, it is the duty of the employees to participate and also to report any overload," says Windemuth. Clairvoyance cannot do that.

Early prevention is better

How widespread burnout is and whether the fatigue syndrome is increasing or decreasing cannot be said, according to the Barmer health insurance, because burnout is not a medical diagnosis and therefore the fatigue syndrome does not appear in the accounting data. Burnout is closely related to depression and its symptoms, according to the Barmer. Hence the medical misdiagnosis. Like all health insurances, the Barmer has offers to strengthen mental health. This includes information and online courses on coping with stress.

The sooner you start prevention, the better for your own health. "Only when I learned about the symptoms in my training as a burnout prophylaxis trainer did I realize why I was feeling bad myself," says Holger Kracke, owner of the Kracke Academy and chairman of the German Federal Association for Burnout Prophylaxis and Prevention .

A third are at increased risk

The association creates framework conditions for the qualification of burnout consultants, is the contact point for those affected and advises companies on the planning and development of health-promoting measures for their employees. "We advise companies and show them how they can protect and support their employees well, even with small budgets," says Kracke. Its face-to-face seminars and hybrid online courses are typically booked by companies. Participants are healthy people who want to prevent, others have mild or severe symptoms of burnout.

In principle, burnout can affect anyone. "According to various studies, around a third of working people have an increased risk of contracting it," says Kracke. A significant increase in the number of cases can be seen from the end of 20, and it decreases significantly from around 60 years. The greatest risk is between 35 and 55 years of age. The investigations confirm Kracke's experience from his consulting practice.

Stress competence protects

Certified members of the association are trained on a multimodal stress prevention model recognized by health insurance companies. "Stress competence is methodological competence," says Kracke. The better certain skills are developed, the lower the risk of developing fatigue syndrome. The decisive difference to conventional stress prevention programs is that an additional stress diagnostic test is carried out by the certified association members. He finds out how high the personal risk is of getting burnout within the next 12 months.

In addition, the evaluation shows the characteristics of the individual competencies that are necessary for maintaining health and performance. In a personal evaluation interview, individual information is then given as to whether and where there is a need for optimization. Kracke advises doing this test once a year. "This burnout prevention should become a matter of course, like the annual health check by the family doctor," recommends Kracke.


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